Regional French Cuisine: Bretagne: Soupe au Sarrasin et au Lard

27 04 2009

I’ll get back to my coverage of Grande Bretagne in a few days, but now it’s time for the end-of-the-month outpouring of regional France posts, Bretagne-style.  Wondering what I could cook from Brittany that wasn’t crêpes, I turned once again to Le Tout Robuchon.  There is a section near the back of the book with regional recipes, and sure enough, there was a Breton recipe for buckwheat and bacon soup!

Mise en Place for Breton Buckwheat soup

Luckily, I still have a stockpile (ha!) in my freezer, from the stock-making extravaganza of several weeks ago.  The only “specialty” ingredient I had to seek out was the buckwheat flour, farine de sarrasin en français.  And it wasn’t hard to find.  It’s funny, now that I’m looking for them, I see Breton products everywhere!  Apple juice and cider, butter, buttermilk, sea salt, and my favorite, salted butter caramels.  It seems that many basic, everyday ingredients hail from this sometimes remote-seeming region of The France.  (Nick and I have started referring to this country with a direct translation of its name in the native tongue.)  Now that I think about it, even the majority of the shallots I buy come from Bretagne!

[I was going to put in yet another gratuitous photo of lardons and shallots sweating in a pan, but stupid WordPress doesn't seem to want to upload it right now, so I'm moving on.  Besides, if you've read this blog before, you probably have some idea what that looks like.]

Once the lardons had cooked a bit and given up some of their delicious fat, I covered them in chicken stock and added bouquet garni ingredients: a stalk of celery, a few stems of parsley, sprigs of thyme, and a bay leaf.  I seasoned with a twist of black pepper and a quick grating of nutmeg, and brought the pot up to a simmer.

Simmering away...

While that was going on, I took Robuchon’s serving suggestion of croutons browned in lard to heart.  In another fortunate coincidence, Nick had just brought home that very afternoon a loaf of what he dubbed “possibly the worst bread I’ve had in Paris.”  We decided that cubing it up and frying it in lard could only improve matters (though really, when does it not?).  Of course I have lard on hand at all times.  Doesn’t everyone?

lardcroutons-a

Meanwhile, the soup was bubbling away.  I fished out the now soggy herbs and prepared to stir in the slurry composed of buckwheat flour and more stock.

Read the rest of this entry »





Enchiladas Robuchon

24 03 2009

Really, I just wanted to write the title of this post.  The rest isn’t that interesting.

Roasted endive quarters and Jambon de Bayonne

Unless, of course, you like your vegetables wrapped in ham and covered in cheese sauce.  Then you should try this, the idea for which came from Joël Robuchon’s excellent book.

Enchiladas Robuchon, before I drowned them in Béchamel

His simple, straightforward recipe says something along the lines of: “boil endives, wrap in slices of ham, cover in Béchamel sauce and top with grated cheese.  Bake until heated through.”  And that’s pretty much exactly what I did, except that since I was already heating up the oven and getting a gratin dish dirty, I just quartered the endives and roasted them in there before wrapping them up in Jambon de Bayonne.  The result?  Enchiladas, if the French had invented them.

It even has all four food groups!  (See the bread in the back?)

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





I Met Joël Robuchon Last Night!

12 12 2008

That's me getting cozy with 24 Michelin stars!

That is all.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.








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